Picture Book Review: “We Go To Bo”
Author: Larry Baum
Illustrator: Joanna Pasek
Publisher: CreateSpace 2015
Age Range: 2-5
Grade Level: Preschool-Kindergarten
Learning to read is difficult. We need to recognize that certain combinations of letters correspond to certain sounds and meanings. That’s not easy for adults when learning a new language. Imagine how hard that is for children, both because they’re so young and because they never made this mental breakthrough before.
When I taught my kids to read, I tried to make this big leap a little easier by choosing books with the shortest possible words. But every book I found had some long words. I wondered if a book could be written using only short words. How short? 4 letters? No problem. 3 letters. Sure. OK, then, let’s push it further. What about 2 letters? Hmm, that would be a challenge, especially to make a story that’s interesting, with characters, action, and humor. I listed the common 2-letter words: very few verbs, plenty of prepositions. How could I use this odd vocabulary? Bubbles move all sorts of ways, thus they were a great prop to soak up many 2-letter prepositions. I discovered Joanna Pasek’s charming watercolor illustrations online, and we worked together to create WE GO TO BO. We aimed to make the book as easy as possible for beginning readers. We chose large, capital letters to make words clear and obvious. I hope you can use this book to introduce children to the wide world of words.–Larry Baum
“We Go To Bo” is a charming story about friendship and is a perfect book for beginning readers. Simple in nature, this book uses only two-letter words to tell the story, making it an ideal choice for teaching your little ones how to read.
Not An Easy Feat
Creating a book using only two-letter words sounds like an easy task, but when you think about it there aren’t very many two-letter words you can string together – to construct a story that makes sense, you really have to get creative.
Writing and Illustrations
I think the author did a nice job given the limitation on the number of words available. The illustrations tie the 2-letter-word story together beautifully, as shown below with Ed and Bo sharing a laugh as one bubble lands on Ma’s head and another in Ed’s mouth!
Having a story that connects with kids is essential and this playful tale does just that while also providing a comfortable atmosphere with words that won’t intimidate budding young readers. The bold words stand out and the beautiful illustrations are enticing and enrich the story.
The Bo Series
Since releasing “We Go To Bo,” Larry Baum has since written a series of books for beginning readers: a 1-letter word book, a new 2-letter word book and a 3-letter word book to expand upon this concept. Joanna Pasek has started the illustrations for this new series, and a Kickstarter Campaign is running during June 2019 to help fund the project. Check it out.
About the Author
Larry Baum grew up in Los Angeles, studied at Harvard College, and earned a PhD in Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego. He worked as a biologist doing research on Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases. He lives in Hong Kong, where his children Ryan and Ianna were born in 2003 and 2005.
When they were old enough to start reading, he looked for children’s books with simple words so that learning would be easier. But all the books he found had a mix of short and long words. He wondered whether he could write a children’s book with only short words. Using words no longer than 4 letters would be feasible. What about 3 letters? That should still be doable. Two letters? That would be a big challenge, but he tried and came up with We Go To Bo.
After being too busy with work for several years, he finally decided to hire an illustrator and publish the book himself, making the e-book free and the printed book cheap so that as many children as possible could benefit from it. Joanna Pasek’s charming illustrations caught his eye, and they completed the book in October 2015.
I obtained a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I’m working my way through 500 picture books. Need a picture book review? Contact me!